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Interposition, in the context of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, refers to an asserted right of U.S. states to protect their individual interests from federal violation or any abridgement of states' rights deemed by those states to be dangerous or unconstitutional.In the words of the Virginia Resolution of 1798,

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.


By this statement, Madison asserts that state bodies are "duty bound to interpose" or stand between federal encroachment on the rights of a sovereign state. The procedural legal details of how this interposition is enacted is not explicit. The Virginia Resolution thus provides what is sometimes considered to be the more tempered Madisonian view to Jefferson's Kentucky Resolution that calls for nullification of federal laws. It is often used in conjunction with nullification, which is said by its advocates to give states the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal law which that the state has deemed unconstitutional.

Interposition is now often claimed to be a discredited doctrine with no legal basis, based on the United States Constitution's Supremacy Clause. This is said by advocates like Thomas Woods to raise the question of constitutionality: it is because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land that states are said to be within their rights to nullify or interpose federal laws that are deemed unconstitutional. In that case, the question over what authority the individual states have to interpret the Constitution may be more relevant to the discussion (see States' Rights).

Interposition made a brief return in the 1950s after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Courtmarker decision. States such as Virginia and Florida passed Interposition Resolutions.

Interposition and nullification were referenced by Dr Martin Luther King in his famous 28 August, 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorialmarker in Washington D.marker C.marker:

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.


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